When you start RiME you’re greeted by a beautiful beach with an ominous tower looming in the background. With no dialogue or prompts, the game is quickly able to tell you what your goal is and it’s a perfect thesis for the rest of the experience: get to the tower.
RiME immediately sets itself apart from other games in the exploration genre in the first seconds of gameplay. There are few games that ever try to do this type of experience and story telling, ones that have little to no words spoken and guide you by design alone. Team ICO’s games Ico, Shadow of The Colossus and The Last Guardian are prime examples of how to make a game that tells a story this way, true masterclasses in a small subgenre. This is possibly the next game that people will be bringing up alongside Team ICO’s.
RiME is a masterpiece that everyone has to play.
There are many games out now that have no idea how to be subtle with their story telling and ideas. Many of these will knock you over the head with tutorials, dialogue, a thirty minute cut-scene and a ton of exposition, wearing you down more than letting you enjoy it. RiME throws these normal conventions out and simplifies everything to such an extreme extent that you rarely notice yourself playing a video game. You’ll find yourself running, jumping, climbing and solving puzzles as almost second nature. Some of these puzzles are very outright and represented, while others are so cleverly hidden that you wouldn’t realized you’re doing one until you finish it. RiME is able to guide you with level design alone; not once was I ever lost or wandering around aimlessly. But that’s not to say the game doesn’t give you a reason to wander around aimlessly at all.
The world’s aesthetic is like if Studio Ghibli designed every detail by hand. It’s masterfully crafted, thought out and gorgeous. The island is one of the most beautiful environments I have experienced in my gaming ‘career’. Not only does the game just let you do whatever you want in the way of exploration, it encourages it. The whole philosophy behind it is the sole idea of child-like wander and lust for adventure. Never once was I told where to go or what to do, but eventually I just did it. There are many nooks and crannies hidden within the island, filling it with secrets. Each major area you adventure to has its own collectibles for you to find, like animal statues, broken discs and many other items that might reveal something about the island’s mystery.
Whenever I play video games I like to think of them like essays or books, and as I play I write down the stories and ideas in my mind. By the end of my time with one I have a very concise view of the game, its ideas, themes and story. There are many video games I play where I think, “this could be done in another medium.” I know, that’s pretty much true for everything, right? TV shows, movies and books sometimes go hand in hand. But what truly sets apart the masterpieces are ones that can only be told specifically within their medium. RiME is the kind of video game where I know that its story could not be able to be told in any other form, from the world to the ideas within it. Everything RiME sets out to do from the beginning pays off in a masterfully crafted and cohesive tour de force of gameplay, aesthetic and story.
The Tequila Works team is full of veterans from companies such as Blizzard, MercurySteam, Pyro Studios and Weta Digital. The game’s development took a long and bumpy path towards release, moving from console exclusive to eventually becoming a self-owned IP. Tequila Works had a passionate vision for the game that they could only maintain if they controlled it from the beginning, and it has translated well into the product that is launching now.
I could honestly talk about RiME all day. There is nothing that I do not enjoy or will not sing the praises of within it. We need more games like this being released, ones that are unequivocally unique and specific to the medium we all know and love. As gaming matures and evolves over time we need games like RiME to remind us of what it is that we all love about video games, which is the video games themselves. We don’t need a game to be a movie or have so much dialogue to read that it’s a book, we need them to be interactive beautiful experiences that we can’t experience anyplace else. RiME is a game that I truly believe everyone needs to play. Don’t rob yourself of the experience by watching a stream or Let’s Play of it, just support the creators and dig in. RiME will not disappoint.
This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.